My second son was born today, it was a scheduled delivery, so no, I’m not publishing this manually at six in the morning while my family happily celebrates. He’s the site’s fourth First Hour baby and my second; exciting and scary times lie ahead.
Video games have a long history with children and families, as games began focusing as much on story as any other element, we learned more and more about our protagonists and their situations at home. Text adventure games, computer RPGs, and Japanese RPGs provided writers much more room to flex their muscles and give gamers as much complexity in their stories as they would find in other media.
SquareSoft is an excellent example of writing that evolves over time. The first Final Fantasy was simple: four heroes known only by their character class save the world. Compare that with Final Fantasy VI (III outside Japan) which has feuding brothers teaming up and a knight who just lost his family to a deadly poison and is forced to watch them march to the afterlife. And then again, with Final Fantasy X, where the final boss is the main character’s dad. As the industry grew, writing became braver and more involved and less like a simple action movie.
I started this column over a year ago with a study on Mass Effect, and almost pathetically, this is just the second column. I’ve got about five games in mind I’d like to write a feature on their daddy (and mommy) issues, but they’re a bit more involved than the typical review. The birth of my son though has encouraged me to write this on my favorite game that is chock full of issues: Chrono Trigger.
Daddy issues: it's a common phrase thrown out to explain many character issues, especially against women. Psychologists call it the Electra Complex from the Greek mythology of Electra, a woman who had her brother kill their mother after she had been involved in their father's death. Many would say Electra had daddy issues, and she probably did, because of her response to her father's death at her mother's hand. While the complex is as old as mythology, it's still commonly used today in literature, television, and yes, even video games. This is the first in a sporadic series of articles on daddy (and mommy - Oedipal) issues seen in video games. And since I'm such a big fan of Mass Effect, it seems like the perfect place to start.
The number of characters in Mass Effect makes this a great place to begin, many of them are pretty complex, not only due to their parental conflicts, but because many of them are aliens and have a unique culture that let's the writers exploit Electra and Oedipus in new ways. The main character, Shepard, can recruit six additional characters along the way. Talking with them as the game progresses reveals their backstory and how they ended up where they are today. No too few of them are there almost certainly because of the ways their father was or wasn't present in their life. Let's take a look at some of the characters from Mass Effect and their daddy issues.